Dr James Morton nominated for “Local Hero” award

Monday, 1 December 2008

Queensland finalists for the prestigious Australian of the Year awards have been announced with Mater Private Hospital Visiting Medical Officer, Dr James Morton in the running as a “Local Hero” for his work as an autism campaigner.

The “Local Hero” award provides an important way of acknowledging the exceptional contributions made by Australians who make a real difference to the lives of those around them. Dr Morton, a haemato-oncologist, was nominated by a former patient treated at Mater.

Humble in accepting his nomination, Dr Morton’s focus is firmly directed toward the promotion of autism in the community.

My hope is that my nomination helps to raise the profile of the needs of autistic children and their families, and that it provides the opportunity for conversation with the government about how we can help these kids.

Dr James Morton,
Mater Private Hospital Visiting Medical Officer

Following his son’s diagnosis with autism in 2001, Dr Morton was inspired to create what is now one of Australia’s foremost treatment programs for children with the disorder, Autism Early Intervention Outcomes Unit (AEIOU).

Drawing on his experience in developing the Leukaemia Foundation’s “World’s Greatest Shave for a Cure”—a fundraising initiative which has raised between $50-60 million over the last decade—Dr Morton has overseen the establishment of five AEIOU centres across Queensland, with an additional two planned for the near future.

AEIOU is a centre-based, full-time early intervention program for children aged two to five years with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The program is run by speech therapists, occupational therapists, early childhood education specialists, psychologists and teacher aids.

National winners of the Australian of the Year awards will be announced on 25 January 2009.

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